- It’s not your fault.
As long as I’ve had alopecia, there have been people saying “Oh but if only you weren’t so stressed/drank this supplement/didn’t eat this food/rubbed this vegetable on your scalp every night, then you wouldn’t have alopecia”. Alopecia is individual, based on a complex gene interaction, and you didn’t bring it on yourself. It is not your fault.
- Surround yourself with good people.
Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.
- Children will sometimes ask awkward questions about your appearance, but that’s okay, because they’re young and they don’t know better.
Adults will sometimes ask awkward questions about your appearance, but that’s not okay, because they’re adults and they should know better.
- However, the huge majority of strangers really don’t care that much about what other people look like.
- Lubricating eye drops are a godsend. Go for preservative-free single-use droppers if you’ll be using them for a long time, as the preservatives can have some nasties.
- Master the thousand-yard stare.
Learning how to navigate your way in public with your head up confidently but not checking if people are staring at you is a skill.
- Anyone who doesn’t want to date you because of your alopecia is 100% someone you do not want to date. Sometimes you’ve just got to let the trash take itself out.
- Find your role models.
There are so many amazing, inspiring people out there absolutely #WinningAlopecia. Follow social media accounts that uplift you. Remove the ones that bring you down.
- Brow fashion styles change. Keep this in mind when making decisions about permanent or semi-permanent makeup options.
- Compliments on my hair when I’m wearing my wigs, or on my head shape when I’m going bald (why does everyone do this?) will always make me slightly uncomfortable. That’s okay.
- Health doesn’t mean what people think it means.
Most people think that you start off with a “normal”, “healthy” body, and then something goes wrong. People spend years wondering “why did this happen to me?”. The truth is, there are a million or more different ways the human body can be not-normal. We are all healthy and not-healthy in different ways. Our bodies are unique and different, and things happen for all sorts of reasons and for no reason at all.
- There’s nothing wrong with wearing a wig. You’re not “lying” or “hiding” if wearing a wig feels right to you.
- There’s nothing wrong with being openly bald. Or having patches. Or having thin hair. Or wearing hats or scarves or turbans. You do you, boo.
- Keep a handkerchief with you at all times.
Necessary equipment for managing teary lash-less eyes, drippy noses or the wig sweats.
- You can’t win them all.
Some people might be uncomfortable about your alopecia, or say something rude, or have strong and incorrect opinions. Other people’s problems are a reflection on them, not on you.
- Gratitude is healing. You don’t need to be grateful for your alopecia, but reflecting one what good it has brought you and what you’ve learned can help you find peace with it.
- It’s important to be positive.
You don’t have to love your alopecia if you don’t want to. But for your long-term wellbeing, it’s important to find how to live with confidence, comfort, and in a way that serves you best.
- It’s okay to be upset.
It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel distressed. You don’t need to feel guilty for your feelings because “it could be worse”. You’re allowed to feel what you feel. But always remember that you deserve to be happy and you will be.
- You can choose to move forward.
We can’t always control how we feel. But we can control how we respond to hardship and how we act. If you need support, reach out. It’s there for you, I promise. If there is something you want to do, do it. Don’t let alopecia hold you back from the things you want. Go swimming, get on that rollercoaster, ask that person out. Pushing through our fears is hard, but living under them is worse.
- $8 liquid eyeliner just is as good as $80 liquid liner. You can’t change my mind.
- Helping others helps you.
Volunteering and helping support others living with Alopecia Areata has been the best thing I could have done to help myself find positivity with this condition. If you’re able to, reach out to your local alopecia support organisation (AAAF, Alopecia UK, CANAAF, NAAF and many more) and ask how you can get involved. You could run a catch-up event in your town, take part in peer support, help young people tell their schools about alopecia, and more.
- You’re not alone. You can do this.
What have you learnt from your journey with Alopecia Areata? What do you wish you’d known when you were first diagnosed? Let us know in the comments!